Friday, November 6, 2009

A Boston Tale

I'm not quite sure what to make of Boston.

On the one hand, it's a very pretty city packed with natural charm and history, and pretty cool accents. On the other hand, I found the people rather reserved and guarded, which meant that conversations were few and far between. Also the 'nightlife' was, well...

I had found a neat little bar around the corner from my hostel called 'Whiskey's' on my first night, and had stayed for quite some time, having had a reasonable time, but lamenting that the bar was also rather empty. So the following night (Wednesday) I decided that I would make another go of it, especially as it was game six of the World Series, and the Yankees could win it that night. So I set out to camp out at the bar a second time.

Still a little tender from the night before, I started with a cranberry juice. I was a little early for the game to start, so I just hung out at the bar and made sure I got a good seat. Now the thing you have to understand about Boston, is that they hate the Yankees (though I'm not sure the rivalry goes back the other way); kind of like NZ/Australia. So my being there to watch the game and support their arch rivals probably didn't endear me to them too much. So I decided I would keep a low profile.

Well, that was until I realised that I had picked the one corner of the bar where all the other Yankees fans had decided to congregate, completely by chance. So I quickly made friends with them, and once they learned that I was both a Yankees fan AND a kiwi, I didn't pay for another drink for the rest of the night. That was cool. After the game (which the Yankees won, of course), we stuck around for a couple more drinks before the bar kicked us out. At 1am.

Everywhere in Boston closes at either 1am or 2am. Which is late, sure - but rather bizarre, and limits your options somewhat. It's usually around that time of night that you've decided if you're going to stay out or going home, and I had just then decided that I would be staying out.
Unfortunately Boston had other plans, and so I returned to my hostel - having drunk just enough to sleep poorly. I resolved that I would check out a different bar the next night, or maybe find some other kind of fun.

That's when I remembered the improv theatre. I hadn't seen any improv my entire trip, and while I feared the worst about the kind of improv I could be seeing, I had read some positive reviews online and was also rather keen to meet up with some fellow improvisers: network, share formats and philosophies, make friends, and party. So I put on my going out trousers and took the T (the subway in Boston) to the theatre, eager to make some new friends and to be inspired.

The show itself wasn't all that bad. It was a mixture of sketch comedy and improvised scenes, with very little reliance on audience suggestions. By this I mean that they still asked for input, but it was used to inspire scenes, rather than to drive the scenes. This, in my opinion, always results in better theatre. At times they were a little agressive, railroading scenes, going for the easy gags and with little focus on the relationships between characters, and at times I think they took the easy option, but overall not a bad show. My favourite scene of the night was a sketch at the end, which was a rewrite of One Day More from Les Miserable (recreated as One Beer More). It was actually very good, and a great way to end the show.

I was excited though to meet up with the cast afterwards, and so hung out after the show to meet up with the crew. I introduced myself to Misch, one of the cast she was my favourite of the night, but more importantly was willing to talk to me. She impressed me the most during the show, as she showed a lot of imagination, was bold in her offers, and didn't go for the easy gag. We chatted for a few minutes about improv etc, and exchanged email addresses, though didn't get to hang out for very long.

I then went and chatted to another of the group, but he was either exhausted after the show, or just not very interested as the conversation was extremely one sided. I found this very odd, because most improv groups that I've come across in my time have jumped on the opportunity to meet other improvisors, to teach and to learn, and to drink tequila. But I guess not this one.
Lame. Still, at least I got to see some improv.

So I headed back towards my hostel, and since it was still only 10pm, decided that I would head back to Whiskey's, to try for a third night of fun. When I got there, I saw that the bar was full of people, which meant a whole bar full of people to meet and talk to. Only, the bouncer wouldn't let me in.

I walked up to the door and was greeted by Chris, the doorman who I had hung out with on Tuesday. We were talking for about ten seconds when the bouncer told me that he'd need to see some ID. So I showed him my NZ driver's licence. Which he rejected, saying I needed a passport or US driver's licence to be allowed in. To Chris' credit, he did stick up for me a little bit, but bouncers have never been happy with their place on the food chain and so grasp at power wherever they can. This was one of those times, and so despite my having spent the entire night there the previous two nights, I was no longer welcome.

It would be different if I looked at all like I could be under the age of 21, but I haven't looked under 21 since I was 17. So I left the bar feeling rather miffed, and found another bar down the road - the only other one that was open and sans bouncer, and rather empty. So I sat there for a bit, drank my beer, tried making small talk for a little while, but nothing really stuck, and so I left to go back to my hostel.

I'm not sure what it is about Boston. I really think it's a lovely city, but I've also had a bit of a poor experience with the social side of the city.

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